'HYSTERIA': Satellite images fuel concerns of Russian invasion

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Fears continue to grow that Russia is plotting a military move against the Ukraine as satellite images reveal an ongoing build-up of troops at the border.

In private talks overnight, US president Joe Biden told Russian leader Vladimir Putin that the West is concerned Russia will invade Ukraine and warned of "strong economic and other measures" as punishment should Moscow start a military conflict, the White House said.

According to The Washington Post, US intelligence has found the Kremlin is planning a multi-front offensive against Ukraine as soon as early next year involving up to 175,000 troops.

The United States says it doesn't know for sure what Russia intends to do in Ukraine, but is alarmed at the deployment of some 100,000 battle-ready Russian troops to the border.

US intelligence indicates Russia is planning a troop offensive as early as next month.
US intelligence indicates Russia is planning a troop offensive as early as next month. Source: Maxar technologies

Russia already supports a powerful separatist rebellion across swaths of eastern Ukraine and annexed the Crimean peninsula from Kiev in 2014.

Biden and Putin held two hours of virtual talks on Ukraine and other disputes in a video call about US-Russian relations, which have sunk to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

The Kremlin, which said before the meeting it did not expect any breakthroughs, has denied harbouring any intention to attack Ukraine and has said its troop posture is defensive.

But satellite images suggest otherwise.

Satellite images showing Russia continues to amass military assets at the border
As it continues to amass military assets at the border, Russia says invasion fears are "hysteria". Source: Maxar technologies
An unclassified US intelligence document shows Russian military activity on the territory of Russia and Russian-annexed Crimea close to the border with Ukraine. Source: Reuters
An unclassified US intelligence document shows Russian military activity on the territory of Russia and Russian-annexed Crimea close to the border with Ukraine. Source: Reuters

Moscow has called invasion talk "hysteria."

Instead, Putin reportedly planned to tell Biden he sees Ukraine's growing alliance with Western nations as a threat to Russian security – and that any move by Ukraine to join NATO or to host NATO missiles would be unacceptable.

Even though Ukraine is nowhere near being able to join the US-led military alliance, Putin wants a "legal" guarantee it will never happen.

"Russia has never planned to attack anyone," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said overnight. "But we have our own red lines."

During the talks, Biden voiced the "deep concerns of the United States and our European allies about Russia’s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine," the White House said, and "made clear that the US and its allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation."

Biden reiterated US support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said, and called for de-escalation and diplomacy.

with wires

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